Daily Archives: May 11, 2007

Does Congress matter any longer?

By smintheus, at dkos:

The answer is “no”, according to the Bush administration. They’ve been doing their best to school Congress in this simple fact—that it can’t touch Bush & Co. It’s a lesson that Democrats have been slow to learn.

Take for example the notorious appearance of Alberto Gonzales before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday. As Dahlia Lithwick notes, the Attorney General made not the slightest effort this time around to explain how and why the eight (or more) US Attorneys got fired. He didn’t try to justify himself or the administration. Instead, he just giggled at House Democrats and repeated nonsensical refrains. It was an act of defiance.

Gonzales was displaying open contempt for Congress. He wanted them to know that they don’t matter

Gonzales revealed little in the daylong testimony, as Democrats grew increasingly upset with his failure to offer specifics about who decided whom to fire and why.

Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., accused Gonzales of lying when he couldn’t be pinned down on who decided to add Iglesias to the list in the eleventh hour. “Are you the attorney general?” he asked. “Do you run the Department of Justice? You know who put him on the list, but you won’t tell us.”


Republicans seem to like it that way.

“I’m going to ask you the basis question, which is, if you continue to serve for 20 more months at the pleasure of the president, which I believe you will, will you, in fact, not be gun shy as a result of what happens here today?” – Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.

“Contrary to being gun shy, this process is somewhat liberating in terms of going forward.” – Gonzales.

Contempt for Congress, without having to face all those pesky charges, must of course be liberating and just a little amusing too.

Bush & Co. have been hammering the point home recently. For example, yesterday we learned from Murray Waas about some further documents that the White House has withheld from Congress. These emails would demonstrate that Rove played a central role in the firing of those US Attorneys.

Several of the e-mails that the Bush administration is withholding from Congress, as well as papers from the White House counsel’s office describing other withheld documents, were made available to National Journal by a senior executive branch official, who said that the administration has inappropriately kept many of them from Congress.

The senior official said that Gonzales, in preparing for testimony before Congress, has personally reviewed the withheld records and has a responsibility to make public any information he has about efforts by his former chief of staff, other department aides, and White House officials to conceal Rove’s role…”If there was an effort within Justice and the White House to mislead Congress, it is his duty to disclose that to Congress.”

They would have a responsibility to make them public, along with all the other documents they’ve been withholding—if Congress actually mattered.

Read the rest.

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Filed under George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Iraq, Politics

Ethics complaint v. GOP chairman Mel Martinez; violations “unprecedented in size and scope..”

A sccfflaw, or a crook, you decide:

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint today against Martinez for Senate, the principal campaign committee of Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL), alleging multiple egregious violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and FEC regulations.

The complaint is based primarily upon the Commission’s recent audit on April 17, 2007 of Martinez for Senate, which revealed that the campaign committee failed to comply with the most basic disclosure provisions of FECA and FEC regulations. During the course of the ten-month campaign, Martinez for Senate received no fewer than three written warnings from the Commission.

The FEC’s Audit Division found that Martinez for Senate violated several statues by failing to disclose occupation and/or employer information for an astonishing forty-six percent (46%) of the individuals who contributed to the campaign, and by failing to provide any contributor identification information at all for approximately $320,000 in contributions.

The Audit Division also found that Martinez for Senate accepted $313,325 in excessive contributions. Virtually all of those illegal funds were spent by Martinez for Senate in order to win the 2004 general election when, in fact, they should not have been available for use. Additionally, in the twenty days before the 2004 general election, Martinez for Senate received, but failed to disclose, $140,514 in contributions.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said today, “The violations committed by Martinez for Senate are unprecedented in both size and scope.” Sloan continued, “Basically, Mel Martinez broke the law in order to win an election. Now, years later, he is a sitting Senator and the chairman of the Republican National Committee. A failure by the FEC to severely sanction the Martinez for Senate campaign committee will demonstrate that violating the law pays.”


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Rice hosts notorious African dictator: “You are a good friend…”

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Image of “President” Teodoro Obiang, of Equatorial Guinea, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Bush and Rice aren’t too particular about their friends, as long as they have oil and know how to spread the freedom cash around:


“Thank you very much for your presence here,” she cooed. “You are a good friend, and we welcome you.”

Since 2004, according to Department of Justice reports, Equatorial Guinea has paid Cassidy and Associates at least $120,000 per month to overhaul the country’s image.

Yet on the ground, improvements are hard to come by. Equatorial Guinea has one of the world’s highest incomes per capita, but in one of the 10 most corrupt nations on earth, little of that money trickles down. Obiang rules the country with an iron fist: According to State Department reports, suspects have been tortured to death and prisoners raped by police. Still, Cassidy has delivered results for Obiang in D.C. “A few years ago, at least U.S. officials wouldn’t talk about the relationship with Equatorial Guinea, or they would admit all the problems and horrible human rights abuses,” says Frank Ruddy, the former U.S. ambassador to Equatorial Guinea. Now, he adds, “you would have thought this is Mother Teresa’s brother running Equatorial Guinea.”

Such makeovers are the result of sophisticated campaigns. In the past, dictatorships simply used lobbyists to court the mostly below-the-radar support of American politicians. But in the post-9/11 world of 24/7 media coverage of every human rights crackdown in Kazakhstan or every whisper of Saudi Arabia funding extremists, authoritarians need a different strategy—an intensive, crisis-management approach to PR. Like Angelina Jolie, who transformed her image from wild woman to paragon of charity, these dictators have rebranded themselves completely, using every avenue to promote their new images.

“The Saudis were the first to get this new era of PR,” says Kevin McCauley, editor of O’Dwyer’s Public Relations, the leading trade publication covering the PR industry. Shortly after 9/11, Saudi Arabia entered into a $14 million-a-year contract with Qorvis, a Washington PR firm…

I wonder how many PR subcontractors and PACs the money went through…..

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Filed under Condoleezza Rice: tell me again, what is her job?, economics, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Politics

Bush: we still have enough National Guard to detain and torture Americans

Herman Bush, my next door neighbor, said that as a sort of a joke.

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Cheney, Ahmadinejad tour Middle East; residents remain indoors

A faint smell of rotting flesh was evident throughout the Gulf region; residents were advised to remain indoors.


U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad both are touring states in the Persian Gulf this week, making visits that are seen in the region as an attempt by both to curry favor with the Gulf Arab countries, The Associated Press reported May 10. “We have a deep mistrust of both sides,” Mustafa Alani, of the Dubai-based Gulf Research Center, was quoted as saying. “Each is trying to defend his corner on major issues in the region. But neither is likely to accomplish very much,” he said.


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Filed under Bill Kristol: is he smarter than you?, Dick Cheney: Hannibal Lector in disguise?, George W. Bush: is he really THAT bad?, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Politics, travel